San Diego’s first urban distillery offers clear options
Laura Johnson has already conquered more in a few years than many people do in a lifetime. At just 26 years old, Johnson is the founder and owner of You & Yours Distilling Co. in San Diego’s East Village. It’s the city’s first urban distillery.
“I just kind of fell in love with distilling,” Johnson says of her career path and distillery business, which opened in March 2017. “I visited a distillery while on vacation the summer after graduating high school, and remember being absolutely enthralled. It snowballed when I attended a distilling workshop after graduating from University of San Diego. I just had to find a place in this industry, hell or high water,” she explains.
That was 2012. Fast forward and You & Yours now occupies a bright corner space at G and 15th Streets. The flagship roster includes one vodka and two kinds of gin, including a seasonal variety. Visitors can tour the distilling operation and order up a cocktail. The trendy tasting room features plush velvet couches accented by salvaged wood, white brick, copper, and marble elements.
The centerpiece of it all is hidden in the back distilling facility, not visible from the bar area. Johnson built a custom still, which she refers to as her “workhorse.” She explains that she can make almost anything with this still and that its small size is perfect for where the business is right now. She can be versatile and committed at the same time.
Johnson is excited that San Diego’s drinking culture, long dominated by craft beers, is now expanding to include different kinds of drinks, including craft spirits. As a distiller of clear liquors, she’s also happy that the preference for heavier flavors, like those of IPAs, is also starting to soften.
“I see people turning to un-aged, higher quality liquors and lighter beers like lagers and pilsners, which is exciting. I think it’s just a natural progression, seeing as we’re pretty good about what we eat here in Southern California,” she says, adding, “I love the opportunity to introduce people to a whole new world of ‘craft’ beverages right here in their backyard. Most San Diegans have a good handle on the beer scene, but it baffles me how many people still don’t know we have over 14 craft distilleries across the county.”
Though she’s already had a big year — she was recently was named to Forbes’ “30 Under 30” list — the future looks bright for both Johnson and the distillery. She plans to expand her current location and her product line. When asked to sum it up, her answer is simple: “Up and up!” Jackie Bryant
Photography courtesy of Lindsay Marie Photography